Subscribe to Verizon and use lots of data? You may find yourself without service, and soon. Droid Life reports that beginning on August 31, Big Red will disconnect grandfathered unlimited subscribers who use an “extraordinary amount” of 4G LTE data each month.
“Extraordinary amount,” unfortunately, is an ill-defined term — Verizon won’t publicly divulge a figure. Instead, users who run afoul of the carrier’s threshold will be notified individually via a mailer and bill messages. From that point forward, they’ll reportedly have two options: switch to Verizon’s more restrictive, tiered Verizon Plan, or face disconnection. Folks who opt not to swap by August 31 will have 50 days to re-activate their line on a Verizon Plan subscription, according to Droid Life.
Subscribers will begin to receive warnings on Thursday, July 21.
The move comes a week after Verizon revamped its data plans with larger data allotments, higher prices, and new features aimed at curbing overages. Carryover Data lets subscribers keep any data they haven’t used in a month for one billing cycle. Data Boost grants customers a temporary 1GB of 4G LTE data for a one-time charge of $15. And Safety Mode supplants data overage fees with a $5 a month feature, free on Verizon’s pricey XL and XXL plans, that automatically throttles speeds to 128 kilobits when a subscriber runs over their monthly bucket of data.
Verizon has done its darnedest to entice its grandfathered unlimited subscribers to switch to tiered plans, frequently under the pretense of “network management.” In November of last year, it increased the monthly price of unlimited data to $50 (up $20 from the previous $30) — a hike the carrier characterized as necessary to “maintain the highest network” performance. “As data use continues to grow, we continuously evaluate the price of our plans and services,” Verizon said. “There are options out there that don’t involve unlimited that may be a better fit [for some customers].”
In 2014, Verizon took a more drastic measure: throttling of unlimited customers’ data during peak network times. It abandoned those plans after Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler issued a letter warning the company against violating the agency’s net neutrality rules. “It is disturbing to me that Verizon Wireless would base its ‘network management’ on distinctions among its consumers’ data plans, rather than on network architecture or technology,” he wrote.
Verizon is not the only one guilty of throttling unlimited customers. AT&T reduces the speeds of customers on legacy unlimited data plans after they reach 22GB of 4G LTE of data in a month “at times and in areas that are experiencing network congestion.” T-Mobile, meanwhile, throttles customers who use more than 21GB in a billing cycle, and Sprint reduces the speeds of subscribers who hit 23GB within a thirty-day period. None, however, go so far as to threaten customers with disconnection.